The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently issued Apple a patent for an app and GUI pertaining to multitouch virtual drafting tools such as rulers and protractors, which can be applied to portable devices such as the iPad. Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,487,889
for “Virtual drafting tools” details an intuitive computer-aided drafting user interface with on screen tools. The patent notes current CAD programs and other drafting applications, whether operating in two- or three-dimensions, requires users to manipulate non-intuitive tools cross a virtual workspace.
An example of such a situation would be drawing a straight line, which may call for the user to move the cursor away from the drafting area to a side menu or menu bar, where they can select a tool for creating straight lines, then return to the workspace to specify start and stop points for the line. The actions can be replicated by implementing a multitouch display like the one found in the iPad tablet lineup.
The patent calls for a few touch inputs, the first of which can include two separate touch events from at least two different locations on a screen. The app can determine the number and position of touch events, or finger placement, to present a virtual tool like a ruler. The invoked tool can persist on screen for a limited time, or until it is dismissed by the user. When the tool is active, the user can resizes, scale, or make other adjustments with full gesture support.
A second touch input involves the interaction with the virtual tool, which can resemble traditional drafting equipment such as a ruler, t-square, protractor, compass, and various stencils. Other embodiments allow for custom tools to be configured with specific parameters being editable by the user. Here, multiple tools are supported, meaning users can invoke a ruler, protractor and t-square, interacting with each at the same time. The patent goes through a number of different examples, outlining possible use scenarios.
Last but not least, the property allows for tool customization, including metric tic marks, while line thickness and other graphical assets are also editable.
The virtual tool patent was originally filed for in 2010 and credits Nicholas V. King as its inventor. Now that the patent has been issued, it’ll be interesting to see the technology come into fruition with future Apple apps and products.